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Tobey, Assistant General Manager
The Main Street Trolley was initially proposed as
part of a rehabilitation of a downtown pedestrian mall, which had been built in
the 1970s and had not met expectations. The initial 2.5-mile line provided
service along a rebuilt, but still auto-free, mall. It also extended north to
the redeveloping Pinch District, and south to a new intermodal transportation
center. The initial line opened in 1993. A parallel line along a railroad right
of way was subsequently implemented in 1997. This line serves the Pyramid Sports
center, provides a scenic ride along the Mississippi River waterfront, and
serves new residential development. The residential development consists of both
converted office buildings along and adjacent to Main Street, as well new
mixed-density development along the river to the south of downtown. The line is
more of a vintage light rail line than a tourist trolley.
The line runs in the Main Street Mall for much of
its length, and in mixed street traffic on the north and south ends. It is on
its own right of way for most of the Riverfront line. Cars stop approximately
every other block, and the system is wheelchair accessible. The vehicle fleet
consists of a number of rehabilitated single truck cars from Oporto, Portugal;
rehabilitated cars from Melbourne; and one replica single-truck car. The
maintenance base is at the north end of the line and is has been converted from
a city storage facility.
The Main Street Trolley runs seven days a week,
about 16 hours a day. The Riverfront line operates on about a 15-minute headway,
while the basic Main Street line runs on five-minute headway most of the day.
Ridership has grown steadily, as downtown Memphis has become revitalized, and
for the first six months of 2000 is about 3,300 per day—up 12% over 1999. In
June 2000, the trolley carried 10% of all transit ridership in Memphis.
The Main Street Trolley is owned and operated as
part of the Memphis Area Transit Authority.
Operating Costs and Funding:
The trolley is part of the Transit Authority
operation, and its cost of operation is budgeted by that organization.
Capital Costs and Funding:
The initial line was funded by a Federal grant that
came about when the Federal Highway Administration was prevented by
environmental reasons from comp1eting a planned freeway through historic Overton
Park. The funds earmarked for the road were escrowed, and were available for the
trolley when it was approved for construction. Subsequent funding has come from
normal transit sources.
The trolley has become a key mobility means for
downtown Memphis. It is heavily used by tourists and visitors, but has also
become a means for making short downtown trips for employees and residents of
the area. As more new construction and rehabilitation of downtown occurs, the
trolley is becoming a key means of transportation. Currently, the line is being
extended from Main Street east to the Medical Center.
System Problems and Issues:
No major problems have been reported
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